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Kennetcook boxer eyeing 2020 Olympics

Wyatt Sanford (right) on the Canadian National Boxing Team, is victorious again Poland's Karol Kowal. Team Canada won 10 of 14 bouts during the dual match tournament. - Pierre Lavoie/Way Productions
Wyatt Sanford (right) on the Canadian National Boxing Team, is victorious again Poland's Karol Kowal. Team Canada won 10 of 14 bouts during the dual match tournament. - - Pierre Lavoie/Way Productions

Sanford on winning streak with Canadian National Boxing Team

KENNETCOOK, N.S. – Wyatt Sanford hits the gym multiple times every day.

The 19-year-old Kennetcook native is on a mission: preparing for the summer 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Sanford is in Montreal, honing his skills with a laser-like focus with the high-performance program of the Canadian National Boxing Team, but he’s still thinking about his friends and family back home which, he says, is inspiring him to keep going.

And Sanford is on a major winning streak, recently besting a boxer from Poland in a tournament in Montreal.

“It was a good fight, he was a dirty fighter, he liked holding me, rubbing his head against me,” Sanford said.

About a minute and 20 seconds into the first round, the other fighter head-butted Sanford and cut him. He went back to his corner and his coach was ready to call an end to the match as Sanford's head began to swell.

Sanford convinced his coach to keep the fight going, promising he wouldn’t let his opponent hit him in that spot again. He agreed, and Sanford kept that area blocked for the remainder of the fight.

In the end, Sanford came out on top.

Sanford’s next major tournament is the 2018 Canadian Championships from March 28–April 1 in Edmonton, where he’s hoping to pick up a gold medal.

There’s a pretty good chance he could get it – having already won three nationals, the Ringside World Championships twice and the Haringey Box Cup in Europe in June 2017, the largest European boxing championship.

But the Olympics are still the primary goal for him.

The qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics won’t be until 2019, but Sanford said that’s already in the back of his mind.

“I see it more as a goal than a dream - with a dream if it happens, it happens, where a goal is something that if you work hard enough at, you can achieve it,” he said.

“We’re in an upward direction, I’ve won the last 15 of my fights, nine of those have been international wins.”

Read more about athletes from Hants County here:

• Kennetcook boxer has one goal in mind – The Olympics

• KES basketball player comes back from the brink to captain team

• Windsor bowling coach inspiring the next generation

Montreal boost

Sanford credits the training facilities, coaches and fellow athletes in Montreal for his momentum.

“It’s the atmosphere, everybody who’s here, who I’m training with, has the same goals, same ambition,” he said. “That’s really important when you want to succeed, you have to put yourself with people who have big goals themselves, they help push you along the way.”

It’s hard, demanding work, but Sanford said he’s getting a lot out of it.

“It’s not bad (being in Montreal), we don’t really go out too much,” Sanford said. “It’s mostly wake up, go to the gym, come back and rest, go to the gym again and then relax in the evening a bit.”

Sanford said the team gets to go out to see a movie or something once a month, but they spend most of their time training and in the ring.

He does miss home, but knowing his community is rooting for him has been a boon to his efforts.

“I’m from a small community, and I love my community, they mean so much and have supported and helped me,” he said. “They give me the motivation to keep going.”

Sanford talks to his parents every day and keeps in regular contact with his brothers and friends.

“I’ll be laying in bed and my phone will be going from someone back home messaging me and asking me what’s happening,” he said. “I miss seeing them every day, however, they keep me going.”

Go online: You can learn more about Sanford’s journey on his website or on social media at Sanford Boys Boxing on Facebook.

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